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Fear of flying keeps superstar deejay away from party

"I'm so sorry" - Deejay Eric Prydz, who was meant to perform at Gianpula last Saturday. He would like his £25,000 fee to be given to a local charity.

"I'm so sorry" - Deejay Eric Prydz, who was meant to perform at Gianpula last Saturday. He would like his £25,000 fee to be given to a local charity.

Deejay Eric Prydz, who was a no-show at his own event last Saturday, promised to come to Malta next year and wants to donate his £25,000 fee to a Maltese charity.

Mr Prydz, also known by his other stage name Pryda, was meant to perform at Gianpula fields on Saturday night but had a panic attack before his flight. The party went on as planned while the local organisers tried to find a solution. But Mr Prydz never showed up, angering the fans who paid an entrance fee of between €10 and €20.

Discussions will now take place between the local and foreign organisers to find a way to make it up to those who attended, and one of the suggestions is for there to be a free event featuring Mr Prydz in the coming weeks. The event was organised by Ice Music Medium in collaboration with Xfm and Ministry of Sound. On Sunday, Ice Music Medium released a statement apologising for Mr Prydz's absence, assuring those who attended that this was beyond their control.

The Times spoke to Mr Prydz's management in the UK, who confirmed that it was his phobia of flying that prevented him from coming to Malta. They also apologised for the mishap and said that Mr Prydz's message to his fans is "I'm so sorry", and that he promises to come to Malta next year if the Maltese want him back.

Around 4,000 people were said to have attended the event, which also featured top local deejays. Many of the partygoers, however, did not even realise that the Swedish deejay had not showed up since his popular songs were being played anyway.

The organisers chose not to tell those who attended about the mishap for "safety reasons" - not to upset the thousands of hyped up fans that had gathered.

Mr Prydz's phobia is well-known to his fans and colleagues. Up to three years ago he had never even boarded a plane. He takes prescribed anti-anxiety pills to help his condition and has also attended flight courses to overcome his fear.

His manager explained that the medication had helped Mr Prydz when travelling to America last year. However, when it comes to short-haul flights in smaller planes, the medication is sometimes not enough to calm his nerves, since he also feels claustrophobic.

"If a 747 flew from London to Malta, he would have been there. It's just a psychological thing. He feels he would panic on a small plane," his manager said.

Mr Prydz is also afraid of travelling by boat due to a bad experience he endured when travelling to Mykonos in August, so a ferry trip was also out of the question.

To come to Malta, therefore, Mr Prydz and his tour manager travelled for 15 hours by train from London to Milan, in order to catch a shorter flight. But at the last minute he started to "panic about panicking."

"Since Malta is an island he was scared that he would not have another way to leave if he is hit by another panic attack, since he would not be able to catch a train," his manager said.

He explained that on Saturday evening, Mr Prydz's agent contacted the local organisers to tell them that he would not be able to travel.

Ice Music Medium, in their statement, said they were prepared to incur extra costs by providing a private jet.

"A private jet would not have been a solution because of the phobia. He would never ever get on a plane so small. If someone had said we would get you an A340 or a 747, we would have come," Mr Prydz's manager explained.

Mark Grima, who owns Ice Music Medium, said that when the party started they were still waiting from a reply from Mr Prydz's agency to see what was going to happen.

"It was too late to cancel the event which was already under way with a great vibe," Mr Grima said.

He added that his company was now seeking a way to make up for this mishap.

"A meeting has been set up with Mr Prydz's management in the UK this Thursday to resolve matters. We may also take (legal) action against the performer's management if necessary," he said.

Mr Grima stressed that the situation was totally beyond his company's control, and that similar situations have happened in Malta many times with parties similar to this one.

Mr Prydz's management told The Times that if the Maltese still wanted to watch the deejay perform they would do everything in their power to ensure that he comes next year.

"We're going to try come back to Malta. I'm going to make sure I get him in a position where I know he can come. I'll do whatever I can to get him to Malta because I don't want to leave everyone upset," his manager said.

"What artiste would want to leave 4,000 people there waiting for him? This is just a question of fear that is controlling his life."

He added that the deejay's £25,000 fee that was paid months ago was to be sent back to the local organisers. But if no refunds were going to be given they would make sure the money goes to a local charity.

They also suggested that if Mr Prydz does come to Malta next year the entrance fee may be waived for those who paid for last Saturday's event.

When asked whether the money would be given to charity, refunded or invested in a free party, Mr Grima said that everything was being considered "in the best interests of those who came to the party and did not get what they expected".

But the terms and conditions printed at the back of the tickets for the event include a clause that gives the organisers the right to "vary or omit any part of the programme in exceptional circumstances such as illness of the artiste" and adds that "no money will be refunded unless the event is cancelled."

Eric Prydz is best known for his tracks Call On Me, Proper Education (Eric Prydz vs Pink Floyd) and his current worldwide dance hit Pjanooo.

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